Isa Pickett

John Wayne Carrying A Baby

pretty boy,          i can’t be 
               your swollen cow       you won’t touch 
my belly but to plug
               the gunshot        i’m a different 
kind of man—a woman, of rib

giant plastic cactus         my pregnant 
               stomach              the yip 
of my dog           hurt paw           clean bed
             my partner’s partner plays 
the harmonica         poorly, slowly

             in my negligee, the baby kicks
violence in the xbox      my mom while pregnant
             felt like John Wayne
i felt like a tired fool in her womb—
              violent like an egg
bandana dirty

               the first time i wore a skirt
i was told give us a spin                he pushed
                                 a spoon into my mouth, 
               sent me to the bus
to be spanked in accessible seating
               while off-duty historical
reenactors snapped photos 
               it was humiliating           i loved it
i’m stuck
               on true imagination, attack horses,
what it feels like to give

                 your body a body

these days i’m crying
               at tender graffiti, wondering 
about the fears                 of my grandfather’s
                            childhood best friend
                waking at night he checks 
under the bed swearing                 he felt a kick

i feel like a globe with no land
               like a mother in danger
my baby              will look
              nothing like me


I Am Not A Woman Today

Today I am an  ailing       femboy              with an orange 
               cough    waiting               for God to spit 
                               rain into my car wash

Hawks at dawn abscond 
              toward a bluer freedom                A lonely flagpole slaps 
its own thigh                    My thrifted pants are too tight & I’m angry 
                at the weather                   All sun, no cream

The Virgin Mary                           statue in the Catholic suburb               of the cemetery
               toppled in the storm                                                            Lifting with our knees
Pam and I can’t budge it                                       We place the snapped head 
               tenderly             near the neck
I pray like I’m hiding                   a frog from the class

             When I forget to say thank you                 the gas station attendant puts 
out a cigarette             on her arm          The burn forms an image of Christ 
                            if Christ looked like nothing

Let’s say what we feel like            I’ll go first:       I feel like a puppet 
              with a wet bulge                           like I’m helplessly watching
a golf cart die                  in a sinkhole                  I can’t love right
              I’ve got all this leg hair               and small tits 
                             A lousy milk cow           A buffet              of coleslaw

I dreamt I found my lost rings
                You were there forgiving
me like a mirror rehearsal
                             I sobbed in your arms
               and said I just want to be happy
but those are your words—You gave the dog her pill
                            and rubbed my neck       until it went down
Of course          I worry               I won’t wake up                I always do


Isa Pickett (she/they) is a trans writer, musician, and educator. Her work has appeared in Five South, Philadelphia Stories, and is forthcoming in The Bitchin’ Kitsch. Their work has been nominated for Best of the Net and made the long list for Frontier Poetry’s Award for New Poets. She lives in Philadelphia. Follow them on Instagram @isapickett_ or Twitter @pickett_isa.